April 14, 2017 – When I first saw the wire story about the deployment of the largest conventional bomb ever dropped on a target, I thought is this a “fuel-air” ordinance or something else? If it had been a fuel-air bomb it would be as ghastly a weapon as a sarin gas chemical bomb dropped on a town in Syria by the Assad government forces in the last week. But it turns out this was the GBU-43 or MOAB (Mother of All Bombs), an almost 10,000 kilogram (21,600 pound) tactical weapon dropped on a cave and tunnel complex in Khorasan Province of Afghanistan, an area where Islamic State fighters have been operating. The bomb had to be dropped from a transport plane because it is too large a payload for conventional bombers. The net impact, 36 dead based on the current head count, all identified as Islamic militants and members of ISIS.
Think about the size and explosive force of this bomb. It has an equivalent force equal to 11 tons of TNT and although far smaller than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War Two, it could be the start of a sub-nuclear arms race. Russia has announced it has the Father of All Bombs, an even larger non-nuclear weapon.
So has Afghanistan become the latest testing ground for President Trump to unleash American weapons that are indeed earth-shattering? Trump, during the election campaign, had many opinions about the use of military force including nuclear weapons. Although he told Time Magazine in an August 2016 interview that he would “highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely…be using them,” he also repeatedly has asked why the United States has them if they cannot be used. In a number of interviews on the Fox News Network prior to the election, he talked about using nukes against ISIS in the Middle East, stating “somebody hits us within ISIS, you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?” Or when talking about NATO and defending Europe, Trump described the latter as “a big place,” and one where he wouldn’t take “nukes off the table.” When asked why he was talking about using nuclear weapons in an interview, Trump asked “why are we making them” to suggest using them is a legitimate act.
President Trump stated he feared a madman getting his hands on nuclear weapons. Well he has been given the keys to both the conventional and nuclear arsenal of the United States. He has self-described himself as unpredictable and that he doesn’t “want the enemy to know” what he’s thinking. But in less than 100 days in office, he has used cruise missiles against a Syrian regime that by all standards is a pariah state, and has now dropped a MOAB on Afghanistan. I would argue that America’s enemies and allies know exactly what President Trump is thinking. And remember this is the guy during the campaign who speculated that Japan, South Korea, and others
I would argue that America’s enemies, as well as its allies, know exactly what President Trump is thinking.
Remember this is the man when running for president speculated that Japan, South Korea, and others should have their own nuclear arsenals stating “it’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them,” while referencing India and Pakistan.
For those who set the hands of the Doomsday Clock, I am sure they have moved the minute hand much closer to midnight than at any time since the height of the Cold War.